I told a big lie.  I told you that this was going to be a two-part series.  Well, the more I thought about it, this really seemed like a three-part series.  So, while Richard and I have never done this before, I’m changing this up in mid-stream.
I hope you’ll forgive me.
In my last post I discussed three main areas where boards can help YOU and your organization create a successful major gift program.  NOW, I want to turn the tables.  The next two posts are going to be all about how YOU and your organization can help board members become successful and feel great about helping further your mission.
So let’s start at the very beginning of the relationship with board members…from the day they first consider coming onto the board, on to their very first meeting.
There is so much you can do to inform, inspire and infect (with passion) the board member right at the beginning that will reap huge rewards for years to come.  Here are some concrete ideas for you to start the relationship…and “brainwash” (in a positive way) your board members.

  1. Set expectations about fundraising immediately—So many times non-profits are so eager to get a “good” board member that they will do anything to get them to say yes.  One of those “will do anything” actions is to not say ANYTHING about fundraising.  The fear is that if you tell board members they are crucial to fundraising, they will run away.  Well, if that is the case, why do you even want this person on the board?  Come on now.  Live in the “no fear” zone.Richard and I urge you to let any prospective board members know quite explicitly what your organization’s expectation is for them regarding fundraising.  This needs to happen BEFORE they decide to come on.  We recommend that you create a “prospective board” document that outlines this in writing.Further, both the CEO and the VP of Development should sit down with the board member and verbally restate what is in that initial document they read.  The point of all this is to make sure YOUR organization is getting the right person on the board, that they understand how important fundraising is and how crucial they are to your organization’s success.
  2. Create a “new board member fundraising information package.” Once a board member has agreed to be on the board and they are voted in, every board member needs to get a packet of information on your fundraising program.  Here are the elements that need to go into this package:
  • Your Organization’s Philosophy of Fundraising—This sets the context of why you do what you do.
  • The economics of fundraising—This is a critical piece to show a donor all the ways you raise money, what the ROI is for each of those strategies and how it fits into the full picture of what you are trying to accomplish with fundraising.
  • Samples and results of all fundraising communication pieces—Your new board member needs to understand what goes out to donors and the results of those efforts.
  • Your fundraising marketing impact chart—This shows the board member all of the ways you communicate to donors, along with when you communicate, during the course of the fiscal year.
  • A breakdown of the roles of the fundraising team—You need to provide a bio and a job description of each of the individuals on the fundraising team so the board member knows exactly who does what.
  • “Our expectations, and Our promise to you” sheet—This simply states the expectations the organization has of the board member along with what the organization promises to do for the board member.
  • A list of all of your major donors—This allows the board member to know exactly who the major stakeholders of the organization are and helps them know where they can make connections. Note here: don’t give them a printed list to take with them.  Only go through this list while you are meeting with them.  It’s important to protect the donors.

Creating this packet for your new board members will show them you are serious about their commitment to help in fundraising and it will immediately impress them.

3.  Hold a “Fundraising 101” seminar for all new board members—This seminar is a great way to help each of the board members understand what is in those packets.  It will allow them to ask questions and help them get over their fears.  It’s extremely helpful for board members to know up front how your organization thinks about fundraising and what it actually does.  It’s amazing to us how board members have no clue how their organization really raises money.  Ignorance leads to wrong assumptions.  Wrong assumptions lead to fear and mistrust.  You don’t want to go down that path.

Richard and I have found that if the organization is bold, unapologetic and aggressive with board members about their expectations for fundraising, board members respond enthusiastically.  Do this upfront in the relationship and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
Next post:  What YOU can do everyday to help your board be successful!
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